Since 1985 the American Kennel Club (AKC) has been awarding certificates to good doggies who pass a ten part AKC dog obedience test offered through local kennel clubs, dog obedience classes and dog trainers.
Dog Obedience Test
If your dog succeeds at every exercise and element of the dog obedience test, he or she will be awarded a special AKC certificate showing he is a “Canine Good Citizen.” But he will probably not be impressed. Dogs are not into certificates, even those suitable for framing. He is not going to hang it in his doghouse. Let’s face it, the certificate is for you so you can show it to potential landlords and wary neighbors and put it in Fang’s scrapbook.
Can Your Dog Pass the AKC Test?
If you’re not sure, simulate the dog obedience test at home first, and see what happens. Ready? Here is the ten part AKC dog obedience test for the Canine Good Citizen award:
1) Accepting a friendly stranger. This test “demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation.” Try this. If you take your dog out (on a leash of course) and a friendly stranger approaches, will the dog (a) sit or stand politely? Or does he (b) have to be held back forcibly, while he snarls and growls? If (a) give him a point; if b) take him back to dog obedience class until he learns to obey when you say “Down, Fang!”
2) Sitting politely for petting. This AKC test “demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler.” This means no jumping up on people, barking loudly, racing in circles, sniffing crotches or licking faces. Does Fang sit politely? Wow, I’m impressed. Give him a point.
3) Appearance and grooming. “This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined.. . .” A well groomed dog indicates that you take good care of him, that he is not flea-ridden, and that he allows you or someone else to groom or examine him.
4) Out for a walk (on a loose leash). Can you take the dog for a walk? Or does he take you for a walk? If it’s the latter, Fang is alpha dog in his pack, and you are not. To be a Canine Good Citizen wanna-be, he must not drag you down the street. He must not stand stock still and have to be yanked along the sidewalk. Rather, he must prance prettily along beside you, keeping pace, just grateful and honored to be in your presence. Even if a squirrel scolds him from a nearby tree.
5) Walking through a crowd. This AKC test for the Canine Good Citizen award wants you to “demonstrate that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places.” No craven whimpering, no growling or snarling. He is with you, and must be suitably respectful.
6) “Sit” and “down” on command and staying in place. They teach this in puppy kindergarten. Hopefully Fang wasn’t absent that day. “This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler’s commands. . . “
7) Coming when called. Try this. Tell Fang to stay, then walk ten feet away, turn around and call him. Even if he doesn’t stay but follows you, does he at least pass the test of “coming when called?” The AKC won’t give him a point for that, but at home, it really is essential.
8) Reaction to another dog. “This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs.” The AKC wants you to be able to be 20 feet away from another person with a dog, keep walking calmly toward each other until you meet, stop and chat. No canine conflict. Ideally your dog won’t even go to the other person or dog. Depending on your lifestyle, this situation may rarely come up, so you don’t know how Fang will react. A more likely scenario occurs in the lobby at the vet’s office. If Fang is polite to other dogs there, I say he gets a point!
9) Reaction to distraction. “This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations.” The AKC wants the dog to remain calm and non aggressive if a jogger crosses your path, if a chair falls over in front of him or other distractions occur. He can be startled, but not run or attack. During the real test, you can be encouraging and praising him for not jumping out of his fur. “Good Fang!”
10) Supervised separation
“This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners.” Basically, can you hand the leash to someone else and disappear without the dog going bonkers?
If Fang does well in your at-home simulated test, you can go to the AKC website and find an Evaluator in your area to give him the official Canine Good Citizen test. Then if you sign the AKC Responsible Pet Owner’s pledge to keep your dog healthy, safe, clean, to clean up after him, and to train him not to infringe on the rights of others, Fang can be certified. You will get the official certificate 4 to 6 weeks after you mail in the completed test with $8. It is a pass/fail situation, so don’t bother unless you think Fang will succeed at all 10 elements. Evaluators often teach dog obedience classes or are dog trainers, who will help you train Fang.
My own 13 year old dog, Sir Pooch, a perfectly fine dog if I do say so myself, only scored a 7 out of 10 points in our home simulation. He does not always do well with other dogs, he doesn’t consistently stay, I let him do whatever he wants when on a leash, and he has been known to steal food right off the table That last one is not in the AKC dog obedience test, but it should be.
Click here to find out more.
AKC Description: Elements of the Test
AKC: Getting a CGC Certificate
AKC: Finding a CGC Evaluator Near You